Deconstructing Marcia

Marcia Angell is former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. In a much-publicized book, The Truth About Drug Companies, she charged that the pharmaceutical industry's new drugs "nearly always stem from publicly supported research." In a National Review Online piece, Henry Miller dissects these claims:

  • According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, NIH funding figured significantly in only four of 47 best-selling drugs.
  • Another study, by economist Benjamin Zycher & colleagues, found that among 35 important new drugs, private sector research was responsible for "central advances in basic science for seven, in applied science for 34 and in the development of drugs yielding improved clinical performance or manufacturing process for 28."

Only one in every 5,000 new products is ultimately approved as a new medicine.  The direct and indirect costs of a new drug, from discovery to the pharmacy, are $1.3 billion.  Only one in five drugs ultimately approved and marketed covers its R&D costs.

Comments (2)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    Even when pharmaceutical companies acquire drugs developed with public funds, they have to pay for them. There is a bidding and the winner ends up paying the full present value of the drug rights acquired.

    The testing and risk-taking is usually done by the private company.

    Bottom line: there is no unwarranted public susidy here. The drug companies pay for what they get.

  2. Rod Newbound, RN says:

    Might explain why Marcia Angell is Former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. Such disinformation is unconscionable. But it appears Ms. Angell just can’t help revealing her true self.